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\"20171120
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Michael Flamion\u2019s eyes welled with tears of gratitude as he gazed on his new smart home for the first time in November.

That sight marked a new beginning for the former Ballwin Police Department officer, whose life changed when he was injured in the line of duty on July 8, 2016. During a routine traffic stop on New Ballwin Road, Flamion was shot in the neck, which severed his spinal cord and paralyzed him from the neck down.

When Ballwin residents learned of Flamion\u2019s tragedy, they quickly rallied to help, says Ballwin Police Chief Kevin Scott. \u201cI\u2019ve worked with the City of Ballwin for 25 years, and the outpouring of support and the ownership the region took with [Flamion\u2019s] injury and supporting him and his family were unbelievable \u2013 and really is an example of what should go on around the country,\u201d he says.

One generous local citizen, Jim Shubert, reached out to help Flamion after hearing the injury occurred near his Shubert Design Furniture business. As luck would have it, Shubert also belongs to the board of directors of the Gary Sinise Foundation, an organization serving U.S. veterans and first responders with programs including R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment), which has built more than 60 specially adapted smart homes for the nation\u2019s most severely wounded heroes and their families.

\u201cI was in Los Angeles at the time of the shooting, attending a board meeting with the Gary Sinise Foundation, and brought up the shooting and possible condition of Officer Flamion. Our board agreed to build him a smart home before I approached the Flamion family,\u201d Shubert says. Shubert worked with the Ballwin Police Department to arrange a meeting with Flamion as he recovered in the hospital \u201cI told him, \u2018If you make it through this, we\u2019ll build you a smart home,\u2019\u201d Shubert recalls.

\"20171120
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Over the past year, the Gary Sinise Foundation, the Ballwin Police Department, numerous national and regional donors, and 120 local contractors teamed to build a smart home specifically designed for Flamion. \u201c[Flamion\u2019s house] became the first smart home built for a first responder in the U.S.,\u201d Shubert says.

The energy-efficient, accessible smart house makes mobility and daily tasks easier for Flamion through features such as spacious doorways and hallways, iPad- and voice-controlled appliances, and a lift that takes his wheelchair to his bed and shower. \u201cOfficer Flamion faces the daily challenge of paralysis from the neck down,\u201d Scott says. \u201cYour home becomes your sanctuary from life\u2019s trials and tribulations. This smart home offers him a little bit of independence and function in his own home.\u201d

As soon as the foundation became involved in his life, Flamion says he knew it would change for the better. \u201cI can\u2019t thank the [Gary Sinise Foundation] enough, I can\u2019t thank the donors enough \u2026 for giving me a little bit more of my life back,\u201d Flamion says. \u201cI did lose a lot of things on July 8, [2016] that a lot of people take for granted \u2026 just getting out of bed, changing the channel on the TV, going in and out of doors. With this [new smart house], with just my voice, I can open up doors, turn on lights, turn on the TV. I don\u2019t know where we\u2019d be without the foundation.\u201d

\"20171120
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Chris Kuban, a St. Louis-based national spokesperson for the Gary Sinise Foundation, recalls how happy to be home Flamion and his wife, Sarah, were in their new abode. \u201cFlamion\u2019s favorite component is the back porch \u2026 he\u2019s an outdoorsy guy,\u201d Kuban says. \u201cWhen he first toured the house, this buck with one set of antlers walked right past the back door. [Flamion] said it was a \u2018welcome home\u2019 omen.\u201d

The Gary Sinise Foundation has more projects in the works to aid other St. Louis-area veterans and first responders. The organization has committed to building a smart home in Wildwood for Legrand Strickland, a wounded veteran of the U.S. Army, and it also recently completed a remodel of a Wentzville house for Craig Tudor, a former Hazelwood Police Department officer paralyzed from the neck down. “We want to encourage people to donate and volunteer,” Kuban says, adding those interested can sign up to help at garysinisefoundation.org.

Shubert says the foundation gives recipients and their families more independence and dignity. \u201cThere are more [veterans and first responders] who need help,\u201d Shubert says. \u201cWe have tremendous support from individuals and small businesses in the community, and we hope to get major, local corporate support involved, as well, because this is a local issue. We want to create more priceless reactions like the one we received from Michael.

Gary Sinise Foundation, garysinisefoundation.org

\"20171120
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New York City \u2013 it\u2019s one of the most iconic places in the world, comprising five boroughs along the Hudson River. As the most densely populated city in the United States, it has been described as the financial, cultural and media capital of the world. A massive number of tourists flock to notable sightseeing spots like the Empire State Building, Times Square and the Statue of Liberty yearly, clocking in at an estimated 61 million visitors in 2016.

As a city that has served as the birthplace of numerous major arts and culture movements, it\u2019s only right that a New York home be bedecked with lavish, glam d\u00e9cor. These three pieces will bring a slice of the Big Apple into your home.

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At this time of year, perhaps no better source of visual and physical warmth and comfort exists than natural hair-on hides \u2013 so in that regard, consider these unique furry home d\u00e9cor pieces upholstered with all-natural materials.

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Surrounded by lovely landscaping, this two-story, executive brick home in Wildwood invites you in with its contemporary style and wonderfully open layout. Arched doorways lead you through the warm interior to the heart of the home, the gourmet kitchen space. Setting up shop at the center island\u2019s breakfast bar, your family will make quick work of the delectable cuisine cooked up on the stainless appliances and served on the granite countertops. A tray ceiling extends over the space, which includes a breakfast area and deck access through French doors. Entertaining proves enjoyable with a great room, featuring beautiful built-ins and a gas fireplace, plus a walkout lower level that boasts a recreation area and family room. At the end of the day, retire to the large master suite, with its pillared sitting room, double vanities, jetted bath and walk-in shower. There\u2019s much to appreciate about this beautiful abode, including the three-car garage, main-floor laundry access and elevator.

This 5-bedroom,\u00a05 full-bathroom and 2 half-bathroom\u00a0home in Wildwood is listed for $749,500.

The Kristi & JT Monschein Team, 17050 Baxter Road, Suite 200, 636-537-8288 (direct), 636-537-0300 (office), motherandson.com

For more than 35 years, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Alliance Real Estate (formerly Prudential Alliance, Realtors) has served the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. The company operates seven branch locations with more than 400 agents in four major counties, making it one of the largest residential real estate brokerages in the area. Berkshire Hathaway offers one-stop shopping services, including corporate relocation, new-homes marketing, commercial sales, and mortgage, title and warranty products.

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\"metro01.JPG\"
metro01.JPG

Matt Gagnepain believes his father would be proud of the caring customer service tradition that continues to light the way at Metro Lighting. \u201cFifty years later, we\u2019re still truly a mom-and-pop business that takes care of our customers,\u201d Gagnepain says.

\"3385HB.jpg\"
3385HB.jpg

Gagnepain\u2019s dad, Charlie Gagnepain, who recently passed away, was one of Metro\u2019s founders, along with his nephew, Jim Frisella, whose brother, Bill Frisella, owns the St. Louis-based full-service lighting company today.

The business\u2019 story began in the late 1940s, when St. Louisans George and Nora Connelly founded Saint Louis Electrical Supply, an electric-supply delivery operation they ran out of their garage. In 1967, the company, which had become known for its mom-and-pop personal approach and speedy, reliable service, was purchased by Jim Frisella and Charlie Gagnepain, who vowed to carry on its caring customer service tradition.

The pair, along with Bill Frisella, developed the operation into the rechristened Metro Lighting full-service lighting company that St. Louisans know today. After operating as an electrical supply house until 1978, it expanded with an electrical distributor and a small showroom. Since then, Metro has grown into eight electrical supply houses and six Missouri showrooms \u2013 in Brentwood, Chesterfield, Ballwin, O\u2019Fallon, Arnold and Cape Girardeau.

\"currey.jpg\"
currey.jpg

When customers step into today\u2019s Metro showrooms, they can expect the latest in lighting for their home\u2019s interior and exterior. The extensive selection of traditional to modern fixtures is available in a full spectrum of sizes and finishes, from top brands such as Kichler Lighting and designer favorites like Visual Comfort and Curry and Co., as well as quality home-town Emerson ceiling fans and Swarovski\u2019s stunning line of decorative crystal lighting. \u201cOur Brentwood location is an award-winning lighting showroom, referred to by numerous designers as a \u2018lighting museum,\u2019\u201d Gagnepain says.

Metro\u2019s seasoned team attends multiple markets annually to stay current on trending styles and technology and to ensure the latest lighting is constantly on rotation in its showrooms, notes Gagnepain, who serves as general manager. \u201cIf we don\u2019t have something in our showroom, we can have it to a customer\u2019s house in seven to 10 business days at no additional charge,\u201d he says, adding that its products also can be returned to any local showroom at no extra cost.

\"metro03.JPG\"
metro03.JPG

The company also has a knowledgeable and experienced sales staff available to meet one-on-one with clients. \u201cWe have inside and outside salespeople who can come to your home to discuss your project, see firsthand what you need and then set up an appointment in one of our showrooms to offer solutions we have for you,\u201d Gagnepain says. \u201cOur trained sales staff makes sure customers realize there are layers of lighting to every room and can say, for example, \u2018This kitchen is going to take LED recessed can lights, LED under-cabinet task lights, LED in-cabinet accent lights for glass-front cabinets, as well as warm, inviting, decorative lighting over the kitchen island and dining area, and a pendant light over the sink.\u2019\u201d

And what makes the Metro experience truly special is its UCS (ultimate customer service) model, which employees extend to every client, Gagnepain notes. \u201cWe truly engage with each customer, we care about their project and we want to take care of them,\u201d he says. \u201cCustomers deserve a lighting design that they are truly happy with and are proud to share with their friends and family.\u201d

That caring customer service model is backed by the business\u2019 price-match guarantee. \u201cWe\u2019re not only going to give clients that face-to-face, caring interaction with our employees, who know what they\u2019re talking about, but we\u2019re also going to offer the product for the same price as on the internet,\u201d Gagnepain says, adding that Metro also extends a one-year, in-home warranty for all of its products. \u201cIf you have a light fixture that is bent or has a bad socket or a wobbly ceiling fan, we will send a technician out to replace it. We want our customers to be happy.\u201d

Among Metro\u2019s new offerings for 2018 is a website tool that allows clients to customize a lighting search by selecting a specific style, size and finish. \u201cSay you\u2019re looking for a certain-sized brushed nickel, white glass pendant light \u2013 our website will show you all the light fixtures we have that meet that criteria,\u201d Gagnepain says.

\"techmesh.jpg\"
techmesh.jpg

A slew of new green, high-tech lighting also is available at Metro, from energy-saving, long-lasting LED lighting in every fixture, to tech-forward features such as the ability to adjust lighting levels with a smartphone app or remote control. \u201cWe specialize in LED light sources,\u201d Gagnepain says. \u201cSome newer sources have color-tuning technology because people want different lighting \u2013 maybe a vibrant white while they are working or studying and a dimmer, warmer yellow while they are relaxing or entertaining.\u201d

As the family-friendly, full-service lighting company has done for more than 50 years, Metro can handle anything from a single lamp repair to providing every light needed for a new home-build or remodel, Gagnepain notes. \u201cThere\u2019s no project too big or too small \u2013 and no matter how big we grow, it\u2019s about caring for every customer,\u201d he concludes.

Metro Lighting, multiple locations, metrolightingcenters.com

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1586-75900-bl1-silo.jpg
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Rich, rugged and earthy, these new home furnishings are inspired by African tribal arts and crafts.

"}, {"id":"f7e0f223-f2d9-5ff1-aa76-9aee29b23f68","type":"article","starttime":"1515088800","starttime_iso8601":"2018-01-04T12:00:00-06:00","priority":35,"sections":[{"columns":"abode/columns"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Inside Design: Trending Tiles","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/abode/columns/article_f7e0f223-f2d9-5ff1-aa76-9aee29b23f68.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/abode/columns/inside-design-trending-tiles/article_f7e0f223-f2d9-5ff1-aa76-9aee29b23f68.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/abode/columns/inside-design-trending-tiles/article_f7e0f223-f2d9-5ff1-aa76-9aee29b23f68.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":4,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Jake Spurgeon","prologue":"One of the most exciting items to select during a bathroom remodel remains tile.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["inside design","tile","mosby building 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\"Best-Hexagon-Floor-Tile-990x675.jpg\"
Best-Hexagon-Floor-Tile-990x675.jpg

One of the most exciting items to select during a bathroom remodel remains tile. It can set the tone for the rest of the room and no longer entails simple squares or rectangles \u2013 especially with so many new designs available! Consider some of the newest trends in bathroom tile capable of creating a one-of-a-kind space in your own abode:

\"Arabesque-Tile.jpg\"
Arabesque-Tile.jpg

Fish-scale or mermaid tile. This tile\u2019s shape instantly gives a bathroom an aquatic feel. The repeating organic arcs, specifically, suggest a coastal theme that adds a lot of visual interest to the space \u2013 and the typically teal color is gorgeous!

\"Mermaid-Tile-002.jpg\"
Mermaid-Tile-002.jpg

Arabesque tile. A complex, elaborate, decorative design of fantastic geometric shapes, arabesque tile should look great in any bathroom. It can be used for an accent wall or even flooring. Consider trading traditional subway tile for this style as a great alternative.

Black grout. When using a patterned tile, especially in a pattern like an arabesque or even with the ever-popular subway, choose a high-contrast grout color. This lends visual variance versus a blending of colors. It also accentuates the look of the pattern and adds an architectural design element frequently overlooked. (Plus, black hides dirt.)

Water-jet tile. Always gorgeous, this tile typically allows for custom color choices to fit your space. Intricate, wallpaper-inspired tiles add a touch of whimsy and class to any space. They can be used as an accent stripe down the center of a wall or even on the floor of a shower.

Hexagonal tile flooring. Yes, the classic hexagonal tile floor has staged a comeback \u2013 but think on a much grander scale, like 6-by-6 tiles or larger. These can come in a classic marble or perhaps bold pops of color to add a surprising dimension to the shower floor.

Now that you\u2019ve drunk and recovered from a glass or two full of bubbles to toast the coming of 2018, the time\u2019s arrived to soak in bubbles of a different sort \u2013 in your newly retiled bathroom!

Jake Spurgeon works as a designer with St. Louis remodeling and design firm Mosby Building Arts. A certified Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer with the National Kitchen & Bath Association, Spurgeon serves as treasurer for that organization\u2019s Missouri/southern Illinois chapter.

\"Jake

Jake Spurgeon

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Discover the keys to your own private kingdom when you claim this elegant abode as your own. Rolling through the double gates, you\u2019ll soon arrive under the porte cochere of the coveted \u201cCastle of Montebello.\u201d Only 30 minutes from the city, the property resides on a glorious 60 acres and was built by an heir to Magic Chef, who delighted in the details of the home\u2019s design. Welcome guests through the fantastic foyer, with its sweeping circular staircase, and into the great room, well lit by a floor-to-ceiling window and limestone fireplace. Create drool-worthy cuisine inside the gourmet kitchen and serve dinner in the decadent dining room. Entertain in the stunning lower level, featuring a recreation room, wood-burning fireplace, and 1,000-bottle wine cellar and tasting area. The gorgeous grounds boast a 6-stall stable and walkability to Kimmswick\u2019s restaurants. Once you retire to the master suite, with a jetted-tub-and-shower wet room, you can rest easy knowing that your dream home is incredibly real.

This 6-bedroom, 4 full-bathroom and 3 half-bathroom home in Imperial is listed for $2.295 million.

Ted Wight & Alex Fairbanks, 314-607-5555 (Wight), 618-444-1119 (Fairbanks), 314-725-0009 (office), dielmannsothebysrealty.com

Dielmann Sotheby\u2019s International Realty combines the local expertise of a boutique agency with the global connections of a centuries-old brand. The company is proud to be the St. Louis affiliate of the Sotheby\u2019s International Realty network, an international collection of real estate companies chosen for their history and reputation of providing a high level of client services. The services of 100 agents and its global resources make Dielmann Sotheby\u2019s unique in the St. Louis market.

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DSC_0160

\"Love your neighbor as yourself.\u201d

For Lucas Rouggly, this oft-heard commandment is a complete way of life. He and his wife made the decision to move their family to north St. Louis to truly understand the needs of the northern part of the city and be able to help those around them.

\u201cWhen we made the leap [to move from Portland, Oregon], we had a lot of friends and family that were excited for us and wanted to help out, too,\u201d Rouggly says.

Thus, LOVEtheLOU was born. The nonprofit was formed to take the pulse of the needs of city neighbors and how the needs can be met through loving relationships. In its early days, Rouggly, his family and friends hosted block parties and street festivals in the municipality\u2019s Old North St. Louis neighborhood. These activities proved to be an easy way to combine people wanting to serve and people wanting to celebrate. After they turned a vacant lot into a garden, though, \u201ceverything just snowballed.\u201d They started their work in 2010 and received their status as a nonprofit organization in 2014.

\u201cOver the past three or so years, we\u2019ve had more than 1,000 volunteers come and help out [in the gardens],\u201d Rouggly says.

With growing support from volunteers and partners, the community development initiative has expanded significantly in more ways than one.

After being given a building two years ago, volunteers of LOVEtheLOU rehabilitated 10 apartments in the space, which are being rented out to north St. Louis residents at the lowest prices in their area of the city. There are four business spaces in the building, as well, creating a marketplace for local entrepreneurs.

In addition to the physical strides LOVEtheLOU has been making in north St. Louis, the group has been consistently working to form relationships with the people who live there. In 2015, the group started a mentorship program with teens specifically, called STL | LIFT. It brought on two youth directors to work with the teens of North City, employing the teens over the summer to work in the three community gardens while showing them new opportunities outside of the area they reside.

\u201cWe took 26 [teens] this summer, and they did absolutely phenomenal,\u201d Rouggly says. \u201cIt\u2019s a testament to a little bit of love.\u201d

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DSC_0140.jpg

Each week, the LOVEtheLOU team takes the teens on an \u201cempowered experience\u201d after their work in the community gardens to expose the students to different career paths and opportunities. LOVEtheLOU also partners with businesses to do everything from horseback riding to showing students how to get their driver licenses to doing financial planning and budgeting \u2013 important, and sometimes fun, life lessons they might otherwise not learn.

Rouggly says it\u2019s often surprising how quickly the teens change when given opportunities and a little bit of love. Rouggly described one student as \u201ccompletely out of line\u201d the first time they took him out to a camp; however, by the end of the summer, \u201che was a completely different kid.\u201d

\u201cHis whole demeanor changed,\u201d Rouggly says. \u201cHe was asking question after question. The only thing that was different was that he had people surrounding him, giving him opportunities and love.\u201d

Realistically, Rouggly knows the LOVEtheLOU team won\u2019t reach all the kids in St. Louis. But each year, they hope to grow their mentorship program.

\u201cThe goal is to take every one of the kids and give them 100 different experiences they wouldn\u2019t receive otherwise,\u201d he says. \u201cIn doing that, we\u2019re expecting a high percentage of them to be completely transformed. This isn\u2019t just tutoring or a program after school; it\u2019s a holistic approach to every part of life. That\u2019s where we find our niche. We want to really walk with these kids and allow our huge volunteer base to walk with them, as well.\u201d

LOVEtheLOU\u2019s projects also include facets called STL | LINK, which will partner LOVEtheLOU with businesses and other nonprofits to work together on common goals, and STL | LIVE, which is the nonprofit\u2019s biggest initiative for 2018. STL | LIVE will work with outside groups like area churches in St. Louis County and plug them into fixing up abandoned houses. Once the homes are rehabilitated, Rouggly and his crew have identified individuals in the area who will be selected for home ownership.

\u201cThey won\u2019t be renting \u2013 they\u2019ll actually be owning these homes,\u201d Rouggly says. \u201cIt\u2019ll be a process of taking vacancies, fixing them up and handing them over to people who are well-deserving.\u201d

For the long-term future, Rouggly and his team want to \u201cgive as much away as possible.\u201d With a solid volunteer base, LOVEtheLOU will be working to find city residents who can benefit from groups coming in and being in their neighborhoods.

\u201cWe help give people a vision of what can be,\u201d he says. \u201cWe don\u2019t have to be a flyover city in peoples\u2019 minds. There\u2019s so much good here. It\u2019s going to take organizations like LOVEtheLOU to highlight the good and point it out. The word \u2018love\u2019 for us isn\u2019t clich\u00e9 \u2013 it\u2019s backed with action.\u201d

LOVEtheLOU, 2801 N. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, lovethelou.com

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There is nothing quite like the exhilaration of an African safari \u2013 a radiant, orange sunrise casting its glow upon a contrasting horizon, while a herd of wild elephants slowly and quietly roams about. An image portraying such warmth and beauty is certainly appealing this time of year, so bring a touch of that warmth to your abode, when the outdoors is anything but.

What better way to add warmth than by finding inspiration in Botswana, Africa, a nation known for its rich wildlife. Let the adventure begin.

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\"VanLuvenPorch-102_49328\"
VanLuvenPorch-102_49328

\u201cFor more than 70 years, Mosby has been a leader in the St. Louis remodeling industry,\u201d client experience coordinator Noel Powers says. \u201cWe have everything our clients need from start-to-finish\u2026Certified designers, an architect and qualified project managers, who all strive to give clients the truth upfront, allowing for a transparent, smooth remodeling process.\u201d

As the client experience coordinator, Powers serves as a first point of contact for each customer. Recently, she kept one couple in the loop as designer Jill Worobec transformed their three-season room. \u201cI ensure client expectations are met during the process, and that the process is as seamless and stress-free as possible for them,\u201d she explains. \u201cThis project [seen pictured] started with installing drainage while working on the clients\u2019 patio. The clients then decided to add a fireplace to their existing three-season room.\u201d

Kristi of Clayton, the client in question, knew she could trust the change of plans to the capable team at Mosby. \u201cOf course we called Mosby,\u201d she says. \u201cThere were different aspects to this job that needed organization. We knew Mosby could figure it all out.\u201d

Powers assisted the clients in determining the necessary steps to prep the space for every occupant in the house. \u201cWe\u2019ve worked before on their kitchen and a couple of other projects with this client,\u201d Powers shares. \u201cThe clients took into consideration the safety and care of their two dogs when adding a fireplace to the room by making sure the hearth was not too low to the ground.\u201d

With the new addition, the clients\u2019 three-season room was converted into an all-season space. \u201cThe renovations tie in really well with the original aesthetics of the home,\u201d Powers notes. \u201cThe brick used in the fireplace was matched to the existing brick found in the room.\u201d

Kristi and her husband were pleased with the results \u2013 and will continue to trust all future renovations to their favorite builders and designers. \u201cMosby is easy and meticulous when it comes to the planning and execution [of any project],\u201d she says. \u201cWe\u2019ve never had to worry about something being overlooked. Everything is done to the highest expectation.\u201d

Mosby Building Arts, 645 Leffingwell Ave., Kirkwood, 314-909-1800; Right Bath by Mosby, 314-909-1820; Exteriors by Mosby, 314-909-8383; mosbybuildingarts.com

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Residing in Town and Country, this exquisite atrium ranch reveals a delightful open layout, with a two-story wall of windows that captures the home\u2019s contemporary style. The renovated kitchen entices with an overflow of amenities, from the island and planning desk to the custom cabinetry and granite counters. Treat yourself to a nibble in the breakfast room or adjoining hearth room, which leads out to the sunroom. The walkout lower level appeals by mirroring the main level, with high ceilings, family and game rooms, a gas fireplace and a wet bar. Venture outside to admire this home, built for all occasions, and its one-plus acre of lush landscaping. Imagine hosting summer soir\u00e9es out on the custom stone-and-granite patio, which allows guests to lounge poolside or to keep the cook company as steaks sizzle on the built-in gas grill. You\u2019re set for all seasons with this inspired estate.

This 5-bedroom, 3 full-bathroom and 3 half-bathroom home in Town and Country is listed for $1.2 million.

Dianne (Di) Meine, 8077 Maryland Ave., 314-650-7978 (direct), 314-997-7600 (office), di.meine@bhhsall.com, bhhsall.com

For more than 35 years, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Alliance Real Estate (formerly Prudential Alliance, Realtors) has served the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. The company operates seven branch locations with more than 400 agents in four major counties, making it one of the largest residential real estate brokerages in the area. Berkshire Hathaway offers one-stop shopping services, including corporate relocation, new-homes marketing, commercial sales, and mortgage, title and warranty products.

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Two friends sat on a sofa in 2016, musing about their lives. Neal Richardson and Michael Woods had met almost 10 years before, when they were teenagers who struck up a conversation at church. As they looked back over the years, they recognized their own pride at overcoming obstacles and achieving success as young adults in a low-income neighborhood.

\u201cI just thought, \u2018We need to figure out something we can collaborate on together,\u2019\u201d says Woods, who now owns Forward Progress Personal Training, has written three books and, along with his father, manages numerous rental properties. \u201cWe started discussing what we wish we\u2019d had when we were younger \u2013 some of the information and knowledge we have now.\u201d

From that discussion, the concept for the nonprofit entity Dream Builders 4 Equity was launched. The pair decided to create a program that would serve youth in underfunded St. Louis schools and \u201cbe very intentional about showing them how people who look exactly like them and have had the very same struggles can achieve great things,\u201d Woods says.

Richardson earned an MBA with an emphasis in finance and now serves as a project manager at U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., where he has led the closing of more than $150 million in tax-credit financing investments targeted for low-income communities. Combining their expertise, they developed a program that incorporates mentorship, financial literacy, publishing and real estate development.

\u201cThese students really need someone to meet them where they\u2019re at and give them exposure to career and educational opportunities,\u201d Richardson says. By increasing awareness of what\u2019s possible, the program aims to help at-risk youth dream big and map a path to success.

Marvin Thomas numbers among 10 students from Beaumont High School who make up the first class of Dream Builders. The students were identified by Antoinette Cousins, executive director of AMIkids St. Louis, which works with Beaumont, part of Saint Louis Public Schools, to offer an alternative education program that\u2019s dedicated to helping at-risk youth in developing into responsible and productive citizens. The students, who were selected based on their interest in entrepreneurship and real estate, began the program during the spring 2017 semester and have already seen tangible results of their efforts. \u201cIt\u2019s been outstanding,\u201d Thomas says enthusiastically. \u201cWe\u2019re working on a house right now on the weekends. I want to be a landlord, and so I\u2019ve got to know about housing. This is helping me build toward my career in the long run.\u201d

Thomas is referring to the capstone project of the Dream Builders 4 Equity program; however, before participating in the house-refurbishment project, he and his classmates studied financial literacy, took field trips to businesses and colleges to network with professionals and professors, and were required to open bank accounts and write daily journal entries about their experiences in the program. The journals were then edited by Woods, compiled and published in August as the book Together We Can Break Chains. Proceeds from sales of the book (available for $20 on the organization\u2019s website and through Amazon) go into the students\u2019 newly established savings accounts.

\u201cThe journals are a safe space to express how they\u2019re feeling; they can be honest,\u201d Woods says. The publication was heralded with a book signing attended by about 70 people, and sales have so far totaled more than $2,500. \u201cI had to really collect my thoughts and summarize what the program meant to me,\u201d Thomas says of the journaling experience. Of seeing the fruits of his labor in printed form, he adds, \u201cIt makes me feel like I can help make change.\u201d

\"Dreambuilder_Student_Book.png\"
Dreambuilder_Student_Book.png

When the students complete the classroom portion of the program, which Richardson and Woods refer to as Dream Builders Academy, they turn their attention to a practical problem: how to help improve the kind of low-income neighborhoods they live in. \u201cBy this time, they\u2019ve earned a little money and are intrigued by the next step,\u201d Richardson says. That next step is happening at Lewis Place, a three-block neighborhood north of Delmar Boulevard and south of Martin Luther King Drive.

\u201cWe chose the neighborhood because of the disparity in wealth and home values and the amount of vacancies and crime north of Delmar,\u201d Richardson says. \u201cThe students are excited about being part of the change within that community.\u201d Five students are working on weekends with tradesmen and contractors to rehab a house that\u2019s owned by Dream Builders 4 Equity, learning important skills along the way. The house will be completely renovated by April 2018 and sold to a low-income family in need, with 30 percent of the sale proceeds used to establish a student scholarship fund for the five students.

Richardson and Woods have big plans for Dream Builders 4 Equity\u2019s future. With support from Washington University in St. Louis as winners of the 2017 Social Enterprise Innovation Competition, presented in partnership with Skandalaris Center and the Brown School, as well as an increasing number of business and governmental partnerships, the duo is dedicated to \u201cgiving these kids some tangible wins.\u201d Next year they\u2019ll introduce the program at Lift For Life Academy High School, a St. Louis charter school, and Nance Elementary School.

\u201cThis is just the beginning,\u201d Thomas says. \u201cIf more kids do this, they\u2019ll see a lot more than they\u2019re used to seeing. They\u2019ll learn what they really want to do \u2013 and what they really can do.\u201d

Dream Builders 4 Equity, dreambuilders4equity.org

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This festive wine cooler and exquisite Christmas-themed dinnerware are sure to be used and treasured for generations to come.

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\"122217-abd-DesignElements\"
122217-abd-DesignElements

When it was time to redo an interesting bathroom setup, a past client of Carolyn Peterson\u2019s called the interior designer to help. The Frontenac home\u2019s master bath has separate his-and-her accommodations with a large closet in the middle that joins them together. For her side of the master bath, the client wanted a light, clean-looking space. Working together, Peterson and her client chose a ceramic tile that looks like marble and used it for both the flooring and walls.

\u201cShe had a giant corner bathtub that was kind of dated, so we did a stand-up shower and a new bathtub,\u201d she says. \u201cFrom there, we made a vanity area and sink vanity.\u201d

Peterson says that as with many home remodel projects, this client had been talking about redoing the master bath for a long time and was \u201cfinished talking talk about it and wanted to get started.\u201d

With a corner window and a natural light-shedding skylight, Peterson was able to help the client achieve the soft, feminine feel she wanted for her side.

Carolyn Peterson Design, 314-703-8007, carolynpetersondesign.com

"} ]